This man [Nicodemus] came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” – John 3:2-3, 5 ESV
But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. – 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 ESV
Okay, admittedly, I just lifted these passages from their context, which is kind of a pet peeve of mine, so if you want to study their full meaning I encourage you to do that.
However, I wanted to draw something out of them. Both of these reference a spiritual birth, an infancy, and I don’t think it’s without meaning.
Something I feel is often lacking in Christian understanding is that salvation involves a process. We know the word, sanctification, but we don’t always allow ourselves to live it.
The original language of the New Testament doesn’t speak of salvation as an event that is one-and-done. The idea is that we have been saved, we are being saved and we will be saved.
It’s about process. We’ve made it about a place we are going instead of a people we are becoming.
That might make people nervous – I’m not saying you’re salvation is shaky, I’m saying your salvation is ongoing. That should bring freedom, especially if you’ve ever been frustrated at your lack of “fruit.”
Where is that patience you’re supposed to have? What about the peace? Why does your love not seem as mature as it should be? Where is the Christ in you, the hope of glory? Why is your marriage struggling? What about your insecurities?
Let’s think about the spiritual infancy idea for a minute.
Paul tells a group of believers that he had to feed them with milk because they couldn’t handle the meaty, or weighty, things of the faith. Yes, he was correcting them, but it paints a picture for us. They weren’t developed enough to digest more than milk.
Jesus told Nicodemus one must be reborn. We begin our Christian lives as infants.
Think about it: when babies are born they are as fully human as they will ever be. If everything develops as it should, they are fully equipped to one day become functioning adults. No parts are lacking, though not all parts are ready to be used.
That takes a long time. Babies must grow into what they are. They begin with milk, then progress to soft foods, they roll over, they crawl, they walk, they speak basic syllables, then words, then sentences, and on and on for years.
There are so many skills which must be learned in order to use their bodies and minds to capacity.
We are so much like that, as followers of Jesus. We have been given everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter) but we have to learn to use it in increasing measure.
It’s not a perfect analogy, but it’s one of the best I can think of. If you are progressing in faith and trusting Him in the process – if you’ve set your heart and mind on Him – cut yourself some slack in the places you still struggle.
I guarantee there are other areas in which you’ve grown and changed. (If not, then take note and see whether you’re still following Him.)
We have everything we need, but we must learn to appropriate it all. We must learn to be “supernaturally human” beings.
Let’s cast aside impatience and enjoy the process and knowing Him in it. Its so much better that way.